Emerging threats to U.S. national security and growing restrictions
on the services’ ability to conduct live training are key
reasons why advanced simulators and virtual combat environments
must be adaptable and, preferably, portable, said Brig. Gen. Stephen
M. Seay, head of the U.S. Army Simulation, Training and Instrumentation
Soldiers today train for a wide range of missions—from peacekeeping
and nation stabilization to small-scale and full-blown conflicts,
he explained. That makes it imperative that training equipment be
“You never know where you are going to be called,”
he said during a speech to an industry conference. “You don’t
know what you don’t know.”
U.S. troops, he said, have to have “the ability to potentially
spin the dice a different way.”
“You are not going to be able to call all the players on
the ground at one point in time before you go. In some cases, you
have to have the ability to interoperate thousands of miles away,”
Diminishing land available for live training, urbanization, airspace
restrictions and environmental regulations all curtail the opportunities
available for live drills. Ideally, a soldier wants to train “on
a piece of dirt or a piece of terrain where you can do it again
and again,” he said. For that reason, Seay emphasized, simulation
and war gaming are essential to closing the gap in training, or
to addressing shortcomings that soldiers suffer when they deploy
to certain theaters of war for the first time.
The simulators should, preferably, be transportable. “We
have to have the ability to do this on the move,” he stressed.
“We never had the opportunity to bring everybody together
to make sure we understand who is on the right and who is on the
left. We have to have the ability to train wherever we are. We have
to be able to train on the move and in the air.”
Further, Seay explained, “We need the ability to interoperate
as we move. ... This is the type of capability to give everybody—the
ability to do mission rehearsal and mission planning en route.”
Future Combat System
Much of the technology that Seay talks about eventually could come
to fruition when the Army fields the Future Combat System, during
the next decade.
The FCS is a family of manned and un-manned combat vehicles that
operates as a network, or a “system of systems.” Not
only is the Army spending billions of dollars on the development
of FCS, but it has also chartered the Institute for Creative Technologies,
in Southern California, to design top-of-the-line, Hollywood-style
The FCS operators, Seay said, should have access to unprecedented
levels of fidelity in their simulators. “Soldiers should even
be able to train, while flying in a C-17 cargo aircraft on the way
to the theater of operations,” he said.
Nevertheless, a distributed, network-centric ensemble of manned
and unmanned combat systems could make the development of embedded
training a daunting technical challenge, according to experts.
A Training and Doctrine Command white paper published earlier this
year said that the embedded training system for the FCS is being
designed at the same time as the actual FCS platforms.
“Virtual and constructive training in FCS will be performed
completely on-board with no outside support,” said the paper.
“To do so will require a rigorous [effort] to ensure that
soldiers can conduct training anywhere, anytime, without Contract
Logistics Support, to the same standards that they can do today
in stand-alone trainers and training domains.”
The FCS platforms will be able to conduct simultaneous mission
planning, training and operations, thanks to their onboard command-and-control
computers and information management systems, said the TRADOC study.
The training software would operate over the existing command-and-control
structure within the vehicle. The Army will not be building another
device dedicated for training only, said Seay. “We have got
to do it over the devices soldiers see, touch, develop a feel for
and work the matrix ... for the mission rehearsal.”
STRICOM has a test bed that is now being used to try out potential
FCS training features. The goal, Seay said, is for the actual vehicle
to become its own virtual trainer.
The technology envisioned for FCS only reinforces the Army’s
mantra that soldiers should “train as they fight.”
Seay said he would like to see training capabilities that merge
live, virtual and constructive elements.
Currently, the terms “virtual” and “constructive”
training represent separate types of technologies. Examples of virtual
training devices are the Close Combat Tactical Trainer (CCTT) and
Unit Conduct of Fire Trainers (UCOFTs), which are stand-alone simulators
for specific training tasks. They require high-fidelity, three-dimensional
Constructive simulations include the Corps Battle Simulation (CBS)
and Janus, which only require two-dimensional, map displays.
Janus is a war-fighting simulation that challenges commanders to
plan and interactively fight battles against real-world opponents.
Commanders plan and execute their battles on digitized maps. The
soldier uses a two-dimensional map-like display.
Seay also pointed out that one current flaw in Army training is
the lack of interoperability with the other services. The Army does
not think enough, “do I need to talk to the Air Force, do
I need to talk to the Navy?” As recent military operations
have shown, he said, joint war fighting is the name of the game
Future training systems will have to do a much better job in the
area of inter-service coordination and interaction, he said.
“Training is going to drive doctrine, because it is going
to be operators on the ground that are now going to feed the institution
that writes the doctrine,” he said. “There will be joint
operators that will do training and write the doctrine, and you
will get the joint doctrine the way it is executed.”
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki stressed the need for better
simulations during a September speech to the Association of the
He highlighted the importance of “advanced collaborative
environments” to help design and upgrade weapon systems, as
well as the training equipment.
The Army already has worked with advanced collaborative environments
in projects such as the Stryker armored vehicle and the so-called
Central Technical Support Facility at Fort Hood, Texas, used by
the 4th Infantry Division.
The Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command also has worked extensively
with virtual environments for the development of new vehicles, Shinseki
The advanced collaborative environments, he said, make it possible
to determine specifically what is needed, “before we spend
time, money and energy bending metal to produce something.”
Contractors working on the same project, for example, “would
[experience] real-time sharing of information,” Shinseki said.
“We are ultimately talking about developing the assembly line
of the future.”
The Army, he stressed, “is fully committed to training simulation
as a way of life. ... As a way of training large-scale units, echelons
of command, divisions and corps. ... Battalions are still certified
in the dirt, but higher echelons of command now certify their mission-essential
tasks in simulated dirt called CBS, for Corps Battle Simulations.”
So far, he said, “We’ve come a long way, but we’re
still looking for more realistic virtual dirt.”nd
Tank driver trainers at Fort Knox, Ky., have logged more than 1
million simulated miles by more than 36,000 driver trainees. (Lockheed